It takes courage to be a change agent in education and I value those who take a stand for what they believe that is why I resonate with the post by Chris LehmanWhat I Want to Talk About on Leadertalk. I receive a daily motivational email from by WALKTHETALK com and a few days ago there was one on courage and what it means in the context of Leadership (the motivational email on Courage is included below). About the same time I read Chris Lehman’s post … suddenly there was a convergence of thought that took place for me.

I continue to seek out new career challenges and opportunities and about two years ago I decided that I wanted to step out of my comfort zone as an assistant principal at a suburban high school outside of Chicago with primary responsibility for the oversight of Instruction and Technology and seek out a principal ship of my own. My desire/goal is to work with and for a learning community where we could collectively lead and guide ourselves in preparing students to be actively engaged global citizens.

I typically do not have a problem getting into the interview process and many times move through multiple rounds but have to date not been offered a position. As I apply for this leadership position It has become clear to me that there is a diminished value regarding the need for the understanding of technology for instruction, its implementation, and what that would look like for today’s students. This is striking in the light of what I see as the wide spread acceptance for the use of technology in the Data Driven Decision Making paradigm and the use of drill and practice type of credit recovery applications. The interviews are all basically the same in form and substance and the choreographed dance that it becomes never quite seems to address the value/importance of creating technologically savvy students as an expected/desired outcome of their learning experience.

To the contrary, what is interesting is that in every interview I get the following question, “Why are you interested in this position … you are a technology guy?” The first couple of times I sat quiet for a few seconds in disbelief and then very calmly respond “With all due respect, I think in the very near future I believe the question will/should be … why do you want this position you do not have any technology background?” I realize that there is a goodness of fit when selecting leaders and not all candidates are created equal. My time will come and my tenacity will see me through.

As I reflect I appreciate all of the pressures placed on schools to meet the required deadlines and demands of the high stakes testing environment that No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has created. I live that every day. What I tend not to understand is the reluctance to embrace and in some instances what appears to be the deliberate denial of the world our students live in and the characteristics of today’s students (millennials). Acknowledgment of how different our students are and the world they live in is would almost certainly bring about the realization that our industrial education model needs a major overhaul and I echo the sentiments of Chris Lehman when he says in his post ” I want to tell them that we have to question every single system we have in our schools. I want to tell them that everything should be on the table. All of it.” That is a courageous statement in the face of the status quo.

Getting the motivational email and reading Chris’ post crystallized in my mind the renewal of what is important to me. I value and thank my small but growing contributors to my Personal Learning Network. They are truly a courageous bunch. I will make the commitment of contribution as this post signifies as my first serious effort. I have re-dedicated myself in my professional endeavors and when seeking a new position with all the challenges that come with it I will say what needs to be said and stay true to my beliefs and values. If I get the position I want it under the clearest of understandings of what are my values, my priorities, my plans of action and where I would like to go with that new learning community.

Disclaimer: I am not implying that anyone that does not see it my way is not of good character. On the contrary educators have the toughest of all jobs balancing many constituencies and demands. It is risky to go against the status quo and in some instances professionally dangerous. This post is about me and my personal decisions and not intended to malign anyone.


What does “courage” have to do with being a person of good character…with someone who stays true to honorable principles and noble values?



You see, being values-driven means two things:

  1. Doing what’s right– following our conscience; refusing to compromise ourselves, or our principles, despite pressures and temptations to the contrary, and
  2. Taking a stand against what’s wrong – speaking out, and acting out, whenever we see others do things that are incorrect or inappropriate.

Unquestionably, both of those require guts, nerve, and fortitude…they require courage. And individuals who do them consistently are truly courageous people. With that as a given, each of us needs to think about, and answer for ourselves, one simple question:

How courageous am I?

Courage is…

  • Following your conscience instead of “following the crowd.”
  • Refusing to take part in hurtful or disrespectful behaviors.
  • Sacrificing personal gain for the benefit of others.
  • Speaking your mind even though others don’t agree.
  • Taking complete responsibility for your actions…and your mistakes.
  • Following the rules – and insisting that others do the same.
  • Challenging the status quo in search of better ways.

Doing what you know is right – regardless of the risks and potential consequences

Today’s lesson is from WALK the TALK: Translating Beliefs into Behaviors

by Eric Harvey and Steve Ventura

For more information on this resource and other high-impact WALK THE TALK publications, please click here to learn more.